Can Poetry Be Happy?

By | 1 September 2023

A woman blesses herself getting off at Flinders St. I wonder if the nutmeg will finally melt or explode from the heat in my mouth. I can feel my mouth getting tired holding the nutmeg, the weirdness of it not dissolving. I’m sniffly in a two-seater in a new Metro train heading east. I shouldn’t be checking my phone but here I am. I didn’t have Instagram until like 2014, and I am supposed to be going back to ‘08. The ‘C’ logo on my Champion hoodie, over my left tit, stands for CW’s piercing. But it’s unseasonably warm, so I have to keep taking off my clothes. On the left-hand aisle of the train the sun fills me up. I am supposed to meditate on my teenage partying, but in being insubordinate to my own designs I am partying. I spit the nutmeg, still whole, from my mouth into my Dare Iced Coffee at South Yarra.

Robert De Niro is on this train – going method? like me?

Australians are good at:

enduring slow, low-stress long time
making poor use of good luck

Americans are good at:

enduring high intensity short sharp pain
making good use of bad luck?

Rob De Niro gets off at Oakleigh – must be he’s playing a Greek Australian (in what, I wonder) – with his wife, friend, and friend’s wife smiling. Two billboards on the platform: Specsavers and Oscar Wylee, both two-for-one deals. OW $50 more expensive than SS. A short man in an orange jumpsuit and a plush lion’s head gets on the train, playing crystal-y music from his phone’s loudspeaker. He’s got a pole. He takes off the lion’s head, underneath he’s wearing a camouflage cap. The undergrad who’s been talking on the phone since South Yarra finally gets off at Huntingdale.

Somewhere between when I was born and today, the phrase ‘boys will be boys’ fell out of favour, ceased to make sense … Arguably this process started a lot earlier, but I think took full force in the last twenty years. A generation of feminist mothers … This is not to say that boys no longer believe they may be so, only that their naughtiness will tend to be better concealed perhaps. It is a fine thing we have discarded the ‘boys will be boys’ get out of jail free card. But what is there now? What sort of cards? Jails?

Approaching Sandown Park, the lion man turns around and asks if I know what date it is. It’s June 5. We pass Noble Park and I see a waterslide. The lion man gets off at Dandenong. I see he is holding an IGET Legend disposable vape, Black & Gold long-life milk, and a loaf of unbranded white bread.

I get off at Narre Warren Station and there’s enormous construction work right off the side of the tracks. I walk to the bus stop and head south, along a highway in my orange bus, then exit next to the shopping complex.

I walk up and down what I have been led to believe is Worthington’s old street. I find the house. Number [redacted], and they’ve painted the fence and the decal on the facade a deep [redacted] and the front door is now [redacted]. I chomp down on my nutmeg and it breaks open. The flavour is mild, it must need to combine with fat or sugar or heat to gain its full flavour potential. I walk to the end of the street, where no doubt CW and his party spilled out to. There’s dewy green grass and a small playground. Small trees provide minimal shade. I dig a small hole with my fingers to bury the nutmeg, the bit I’ve kept in my mouth and the remainder I spat back in the now empty Dare bottle. I tamp the grass and dirt back down over the nutmeg and sit at the spot.

Is this a ritual or a pilgrimage? Who is my hero? I must admit: I was too much a gentle soul at, what, fourteen, to admire Corey Worthington at the time he was on TV. Today, I feel more like a bad gonzo journalist. I’m kinda method, but essentially some cooked cunt doing some cooked experiment. For what? Cordite Poetry Review, my favourite online poetry journal.

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